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Tokyo - in 1 day what would you do?

(32 Posts)
SoTiredNeedHoliday Wed 17-Jul-19 09:00:50

By this time we will have spent a week in the Sapporo and surrounding area of Japan.

I could possibly spend 2 days in Tokyo, however, I am thinking it is just another big city and my time might be better spent on spending time in other places such as Kyoto and the surrounding areas.

What would you do in Tokyo for 1 day to "get the feel of it" with two teens travelling also.


OP’s posts: |
MargotsFlounceyBlouse Wed 17-Jul-19 09:04:57

Head to Harajuku home of the cos play girls and seek out a ramen at Jangara Ramen then buy pretty kimonos and prints at Oriental Bazaar (you can find both on Google).

MargotsFlounceyBlouse Wed 17-Jul-19 09:05:50

Kyoto is beautiful but I'd go for Tokyo, it's like nowhere else on earth!

mclairey Wed 17-Jul-19 09:11:12

Tokyo is massive, more a collection of cities, so I'd recommend choosing one area to explore so you don't spend your whole day travelling around. I personally think Shinjuku has a good mixture of sights and activities. Harajuku might also be a good shout if your teens are into quirky Japanese shopping and youth culture. Try eating at a Genki Sushi outlet, where you order dishes using a screen in front of you and they arrive by mini monorail. But be warned, it gets busy at peak meal times. Give the temples and shrines a miss, as they will be better in Kyoto. Enjoy!

Itscoldouthere Wed 17-Jul-19 09:11:22

Yes as above, 1 day will be fun and you will definately get a feel for the city.
Hopefully you will get to see things like this

Itscoldouthere Wed 17-Jul-19 09:16:01

Also if you’ve got teens it’s worth going to a big Uniglo shop as they sell great t-shirts.

SoTiredNeedHoliday Wed 17-Jul-19 09:22:10

thanks all . So 1 day is enough?

OP’s posts: |
AnythingConsidered Wed 17-Jul-19 09:32:22

As everyone has said, Tokyo is a huge city made up of lots of regions. What are the teens/you into?

J-pop/teen culture: Harajuku is a treat and absolute must. But don't just focus on the main street, check out some of the quieter streets either side and down the South of the street.

Just behind the main Harajuku Station is the Meiji Jingu Shrine, so you can also get a temple in too! (get there early to avoid the crowds)

Shinjuku crossing is a bit meh, Asakusa is another 'must do', but was hideously busy but it seems you have to do it when you go!

Gardens: we loved the gardens at Imperial Palace & Shinjuku Gyoen gardens.

For something truly bizarre try the Robot Restaurant but eat before/after, not there food - it's poor quality!

Itscoldouthere Wed 17-Jul-19 09:33:28

You will get a feel for it in 1 day, but a bit like going to London, there are lots of different areas, so you obviously won’t see everything.
I’d still say it is worth it, it’s interesting, easy to get around and does feel different, I was only in Japan for 5 days (joined my DH who was on a business trip) 2 days in Tokyo, 3 in Kyoto but I loved it, both places were very different but equally fascinating.

AnythingConsidered Wed 17-Jul-19 09:35:01

I think you can do some things in one day, but it would be a busy/long day and would require good geographical planning. If you Google search Tokyo tour guides itineraries in 1 day you can get a feel for what they recommend and then run it yourself.

The transport networks are very good, but can be intimidating your first time through.

SoTiredNeedHoliday Wed 17-Jul-19 15:38:26

Has anyone done a tour? Or do you think its best to pick one or two areas and explore? Also anything special we should do in the evenings?

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SoTiredNeedHoliday Wed 17-Jul-19 15:39:31

ItsColdouthere any Kyoto highlights? I'm also planning that stage of the trip

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Talith Wed 17-Jul-19 16:01:51

Inside Japan are a brilliant company from Bristol that do all sorts of tours. They arranged for us to have a 121 guide for a day just to get us up and running, all sorts of bespoke stuff as well as full fortnight itinerary etc...

Itscoldouthere Wed 17-Jul-19 16:04:46

We went to temples and wandered around the old streets, we were there at the weekend, so lots of Japanese people in rented kimonos taking photos.
If you book the bullet train in the uk you get a free bus pass that you can use in Kyoto.
We caught a local bus to the other side of the city to see the bamboo forest and the big temple next to it, it was lovely.
We stayed in a lovely small hotel which was beautifully designed (near the big orange temple).

BubblesBuddy Wed 17-Jul-19 17:33:31

Kyoto has 17 world heritage sites so an abundance of culture. You really need a decent guide book to make choices. We stayed for 5 nights and that wasn’t enough if you go to Nara. 1 day is not enough for anything meaningful in Tokyo either. Why the rush? You are likely to miss out on wonderful sightseeing opportunities. The Lonely Planet Guide is the best one to look at and I would get it as a matter of urgency or you will regret a whistle stop trip that doesn’t do anywhere justice. Kyoto is stunning. The temples and castles are stunning. So are restaurants and neighbourhoods. Nara is a must see.

SoTiredNeedHoliday Wed 17-Jul-19 21:36:21

Thanks BubblesBuddy I have the lonely planet guide. There is not a rush exactly but I would rather see heritage sites and show the children things that are of cultural significance. We're been to many big cities hence why I would rather not spend much time in Tokyo, just enough to get a flavour and see one or two things that are truly unique to Tokyo.

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AnythingConsidered Thu 18-Jul-19 07:23:24

I second Talith recommendation for Inside Japan. They booked our independent tour when we visited in April. They aren't cheap but it was absolutely the best holiday we ever had and wouldn't have been have as good without them.

I like having a day tour guide in each major city - we had one in Kyoto and Tokyo - I find it helps me get my bearings, quickly delivers all the big ticket items and leaves me the rest of the time to explore. Its nice to leave the routing, ticket buying, queue handling, best place for a photo thing to someone else to worry about.

We found the tour guides like an idea of where you want to go, so you need that to be clear in your mind. The day is very long and your feet ache at the end, but if your only doing 1 or 2 days, they will guarantee you doing the must do's whilst your there.

The only other thing is the Kyoto is full of heritage and culture and temples and walks etc you will be cultured / templed out by the end of it. I would recommend staying on that side of town so it's all within walking distance and you absorbed in the thick of it. If you can, book a ryokan homestay, where you stay in a traditional Japanese home. It's well worth the experience (and usually includes a washing machine!!)

But unlike Bubbles i wasn't a fan of Nara. We did it in half a day - saw the big Buddha temple (can't remember the name but worth the trip) and had a wander around the National Park before heading back to the main city.

The Bamboo Forest was a bit disappointing for me, but that's because I had built it up in my head as something bigger, more peaceful than it turned out to be. It is home to the best coffee via a small chain called '%' or 'Arabica %'. There was one in Arashiyama and in Kyoto (by the Pagoda) plus others across Japan and we started every day in there!!

BarryBarryTaylor Thu 18-Jul-19 07:32:23

I would stay around Harajuku and head up to yoyogi park. It’s really lovely around there. Shibuya is stupid busy, like London, but you need to see it.
There are some lovely quieter streets behind harajuku in an area called Omotesando. Lots of amazing little places to eat. It’s my favourite place in Tokyo.
If you have time you could go to Shinjuku and Shinjuku gyoen. It’s so beautiful there. You probably need two days to do that though

BarryBarryTaylor Thu 18-Jul-19 07:33:58

Ooo and get a Suica card.
If you have a new iPhone you can just get the app otherwise you will need an actual card. You pick them from the train station. They are the cheapest way to travel, and you can use them to pay for small items at convenience stores also

Puppylucky Thu 18-Jul-19 08:12:38

We did Tokyo in a day last summer - well a day and 2 nights and used trips to get the most out of it.
The first night we did a food and drink tour of Shinjuku. It was a small guided tour that took us to restaurants and bars we would never have found on our own.
The next day we did a full day tour of Tokyo including a boat trip across the bay. It included all the main sights - temples, Palace etc and didn't feel too rushed.
I found that Tokyo whilst on the scale of London has fewer must see landmarks and buildings so a day tour felt comprehensive.
When it comes to looking at and booking tours we just used Trip Advisor - loads on there!

BubblesBuddy Thu 18-Jul-19 08:30:12

Tokyo and it’s environs has 45 million people and is way bigger than London. I agree that it’s not all tourist viewing, and at times monotonous and ugly, but in one day you cannot possibly see all the best things. It’s simply impossible.

I think if you look at the guide book and decide what interests you most. Omotesando, from memory is a high end shopping area with tree lined streets and unique buildings. You might like the Muji Store for Japanese shopping and it has a house in a store. The Ginza area is also good for lights and department stores with amazing food halls in the basements.

There are other areas with temples, parks, museums, neon lit streets, and you could even visit Hase and Kamakura by taking a trip on the Enoden Line to that area. We rushed Tokyo and certainly didn’t do or see everything we wanted to in three days. But thinking you have seen this city in one day simply isn’t feasible.

Nara doesn’t just have a giant wooden temple with a big Buddha, it also has a couple of outstanding gardens. It’s such a shame that places are dismissed when posters have just rushed the main sight but don’t look for other outstanding opportunities to enjoy Japanese life and style. Each to their own though but I cannot recommend Nara highly enough.

BubblesBuddy Thu 18-Jul-19 08:32:41

I also recognise Trip Advisor can not be on my wavelength at times.

Stuffofawesome Thu 18-Jul-19 08:44:08

I've been looking into volunteer guide services

Plumpciousness Fri 19-Jul-19 19:56:44

I don't think 1 day in Tokyo is long enough (perhaps not even 2!). I actually liked Tokyo more than Kyoto. In fact I would consider going back to Japan just to spend a week in Tokyo, there are so many things I didn't have time to see.

It's too easy to dismiss Tokyo as 'just another big city' - there are lots of interesting things but you have to get out and about to see them. Tokyo also has a comprehensive network of metro/trains that are easy to use, so you can make your own way around. Kyoto has only two (I think) metro lines, so you'll be more dependent on buses (I was never brave enough to try that) or taxis.

Someone recommended this to me but in the end I didn't have time - I was too busy doing my own things:

If you end up in just one place like the central business district (all glass plate windows and marble-fronted buildings) then you will think that's like any other city. So you need to spread yourself around a bit to get the nuance of different areas.

There's a brilliant walk from one of guidebooks (Time Out or Lonely Planet) from Nezu station to Nippori station, through a lovely quiet area with old buildings, mostly just one or two storeys high (very unusual in Tokyo).

Ginza is the upmarket shopping area: fine for shopping but I wouldn't want to stay there. I was surprised at the Uniqlo shop, as I thought it had less variety of stock than the one in Oxford Street. On the other hand the Muji flagship store was amazing, but probably meaningless if you're not familiar with Muji in the UK.

Shibuya was hell on earth - think Leicester Square on a Saturday night, multiplied by 100. It was the only time I couldn't find my bearings and had to use my compass to work out which direction I was going in! Teens would probably love it though. And it has a big branch of Loft, a stationery/home store.

Edo-Tokyo Museum: well worth a visit. And you go past the main sumo wrestling hall on the way to/from the station (Ryogoku), and there's a lot of sumo memorabilia in the station concourse.

Shopping in Tokyo is amazing, but you have to identify which stores you want to go to and map out where they are (although if you're just there for one day you probably won't have time for that). Daiso is fantastic (upmarket pound store) but I didn't find one in Tokyo, so make sure you find one elsewhere (there's one in Aeon mall in Kyoto, just south of the main train station).

I really want to go back to Tokyo now...

Puppylucky Fri 19-Jul-19 23:14:31

I know that Tokyo is bigger than London but I still maintain that you can see the key historical and cultural sites in a day as they are limited.
What other posters are describing are shopping and neighbourhood immersion opportunities which are different and obviously require a longer stay to experience.
Trip advisor is a shop window for a variety of agencies and tour guides so is a useful resource when booking things to do.

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